I love spending time in the kitchen, but I also am a notorious procrastinator. So when it comes to this time of the year, I tend to have grand, Pinterest-worthy ideas of what I am going to bring to parties that sometimes don’t actually come to fruition.
My default is a bottle of wine — sometimes I bring two, especially if I know I am going to have my fair share of red. The problem I have, though, is that I don’t really know what I am doing when I reach for a bottle on the shelf. I like to think I know the basics, but I usually tend to get wine I know I love (anything from the Hess Collection), or something with a catchy name and an unusual label.
So I spoke with fine wine educator for Young’s Market Company and master sommelier Patrick Okubo to find out a few key things everyone should know about wine.
What is a good rule to keep in mind when bringing wine to someone’s house for a dinner or party?
Who’s going to be there?
Wine is about the experience of sharing and enjoying wine together. The people you are enjoying it with are far more important than the food for these holiday occasions.If I’m bringing wine and I know my family doesn’t really drink wine but will try it, then I bring sweet wine.Sweet wine appeals to many non-wine drinkers who are looking to have a little on a special occasion, and it also has a large application for food pairing.
Why do certain foods pair well with a specific type of wine?
The wine should not overpower the food and vice versa.But truly, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.One person might like a red wine, and another might like a white wine with the exact same dish. Who’s to say one is wrong if they’re the one enjoying it?
How does acidity in wine affect the flavor of food?
Acid is a backbone in not just wine, but in foods. Drinking wines with acid can bring out more flavor. Pair tart acid wines (those usually from cooler climates in Europe) with other high-acid foods (salad vinaigrette dressing), shellfish and fried foods. And don’t forget about Champagne: It’s one of the highest acid wines out there and goes well with a lot of things.
Why is red meat commonly paired with red wine?
You hear the saying that red wine goes with red meat, but it’s not always true. What cut of meat and what you do with it can change the wine pairing. To make it simple, you can follow this: The protein of a grilled ribeye steak hasn’t been broken down at all, so you need a higher tannin wine like cabernet. If you slow roasted the same exact piece of meat, you’ve broken down the proteins a little; now merlot is your pairing. If you braised the meat, then you’ve really broken down the protein and now pinot noir is your pairing. All different pairings using the same piece of meat but with a different cooking impact.
What is a “safe” selection for gifting wine this holiday season?
That’s tough to identify a “safe” selection, but if I had to, then I’d get Champagne.Even if it’s not on the top of that person’s list, the special occasion will come around at some point and turn it into the perfect wine for the moment. And Champagne ages well (keep it in the fridge).
For someone who might not know much about wine, is there anything specific to be on the lookout for when shopping for it?
Go to one of the wine shops (go early before it gets crowded so they have time to spend with you) and ask the workers at the store for help. Bringing a picture of a label that you or the person in mind has liked before is the best thing you can do.
Still feeling lost? Okubo tentatively is scheduled to be at Tamura’s Fine Wines & Liquors on Waialae Avenue Dec. 11, 16, 18, 23 and 24 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. to assist customers with wine-related needs.
WHICH WINE WITH WHAT?
We get it — navigating through wine can be confusing. Luckily, master sommelier Patrick Okubo has provided us with a simple breakdown so you know exactly what to bring to parties.
Celebratory and good with everything
TRY THIS: Ayala Champagne, France NV, $32.99
With poultry, fish, Asian food and more; not overpowering
TRY THIS: RouteStock Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $17.99 FEL Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $28.99
With red meat; big tannins break down proteins
TRY THIS: Rubus Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, $23.99
With spicy foods or dessert
TRY THIS: Dr. Loosen Riesling, Germany, $12.99 Rinaldi Bug Juice, Moscato d’asti, Italy, $17.99
With seafood and salad; refreshing with no oak, light
TRY THIS: Jean Reverdy Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre, France, $24.99
Full and rich with oak
With rich foods, deep-fried poultry and cream sauces
TRY THIS: Hess Collection Chardonnay, Napa, $16.99